Tag Archives: Taliban

KENAPA CARI PASAL BAKAR AL QURAN?

Apabila Tentera Amerika sekali lagi menimbulkan ketegangan di Afghanistan dengan isu pembakaran Al Quran di Markas Tentera Udaranya di Bagram ianya jelas menunjukkan bahawa Amerika termasuk NATO tidak pernah belajar apa-apa mengenai toleransi agama dan langsung tidak menghormati sensitiviti masyarakat setempat.

Ianya menjadi satu teladan buruk dan seluruh dunia kini mempunyai persepsi bahawa Amerika memang tidak pernah ikhlas dalam menjalin hubungan dengan masyarakat Islam dimana sahaja didalam dunia ini, ditambah dengan layanan kelas kedua kepada penduduk Islam di Amerika sendiri, dunia semakin pasti bahawa Amerika tidak pernah jujur dan serius dalam segala tindakannya yang bersangkutan dengan Islam dan umatnya.

Menyeret Presiden Obama untuk meminta maaf kepada Presiden Hamid Karzai adalah langkah paling akhir yang mampu difikir oleh pasukan PR di Rumah Putih bagi memulihkan keadaan yang semakin menegang di bumi yang pernah membenamkan negara Kesatuan Sosialis Soviet Russia (USSR). Akan tetapi Obama sendiri tahu bahawa Hamid Karzai tidak mempunyai apa-apa kuasa di luar tembok kota Kabul. Malah, Hamid Karzai hanya berkuasa di waktu siang sahaja di Kabul, di malam belum tentu siapa yang berkuasa di situ.

Terdahulu, dunia tergamam dan tentera Amerika telah dikecam hebat gara-gara anggota Marinnya kelihatan didalam satu paparan video disebuah laman maya sedang melakukan sesuatu yang jelas bertentangan dengan Konvensyen Geneva iaitu mengencing keatas mayat-mayat yang didakwa sebagai mayat anggota Taliban yang terbunuh didalam pertempuran. Perbuatan menghina dan memalukan mayat adalah sesuatu yang dikutuk didalam agama Islam, justeru perbuatan itu dianggap sebagai biadap dan dikira menghina Islam. Rakyat Afghanistan menjadi berang lantas mereka merusuh dan mendesak agar mereka yang terlibat diambil tindakan yang sewajarnya. Pemerintah tentera Amerika tidak punya banyak pilihan melainkan menjatuhkan hukuman setimpal kepada para tentera yang mengencing mayat-mayat tersebut.

Sebelum pada itu, tentera Amerika juga telah membangkitkan kemarahan penduduk tempatan apabila mereka memilih untuk mengaibkan mayat anggota Taliban yang terbunuh dalam satu pertempuran di Gumbad, Kandahar dengan cara membakar mayat-mayat tersebut. Peristiwa pembakaran mayat-mayat ini telah didedahkan oleh seorang wartawan Australia yang turut serta didalam operasi ketenteraan tersebut ketika itu. Pegawai Pemerintah Amerika apabila dihubungi berhubung isu ini telah berdolak dalik dengan menyatakan bahawa pembakaran mayat adalah dibenarkan dibawah Konvensyen Geneva bagi tujuan hygiene dan keagamaan. Lebih ironi lagi, mayat-mayat tersebut telah dihadapkan ke Mekah ketika dibakar.

Insiden demi insiden yang tercetus dikatakan berpunca daripada kecuaian pihak pemerintah tentera Amerika dalam memahamkan anggotanya mengenai budaya dan sensitiviti penduduk tempatan. Tetapi kepada penulis, ianya tidak begitu. Apa yang berlaku, sejujurnya adalah, Tentera Amerika tidak dapat menyorokkan pendirian sebenar mereka terhadap rakyat Afghanistan, pastinya, mereka masih dan tetap percaya bahawa serangan ke atas World Trade Centre direncanakan oleh pengganas yang menghuni dikawasan dunia yang serba mundur lagi gersang ini. Kebencian dan dendam ini diterjemahkan melalui tindakan dan layanan yang diberikan kepada rakyat Afghanistan melalui beberapa siri penghinaan yang bertali arus tanpa henti.

Penulis mempunyai pengalaman bergaul bersama masyarakat Afghanistan yang terdiri dari suku kaum Pashtu, Hazara, Uzbek dan lain-lain lagi di Afghanistan, juga bersama para pelarian Afghan yang mendiami pelbagai kem-kem pelarian dan penempatan pelarian di sepanjang sempadan Afghanistan-Pakistan, di Peshawar dan di wilayah Ningarhar. Penulis pernah berada di wilayah Afghanistan seperti Sherbagan, Jowjzan, Ningarhar, Parachinar, Kabul, pernah juga melalui Khyber Pass dan Salang Pass yang mahsyur itu.

Penulis berpengalaman mengembara dan bermusafir bersama mereka, memahami hati budi mereka dan budaya mereka. Penulis juga sempat merasakan keempat-empat musim di Afghanistan. Disini penulis suka untuk berkongsi serba sedikit mengenai masyarakat Afghan yang penulis kenali.

Masyarakat Afghanistan adalah satu masyarakat yang didominasi oleh kaum lelaki. Keputusan penting di buat oleh lelaki dan perlu dipatuhi. Menjadi anak lelaki merupakan suatu rahmat dan kelebihan bagi sesebuah keluarga. Anak perempuan kadangkala tidak termasuk didalam hitungan anak-anak yang mereka miliki. Kelahiran anak lelaki amatlah meriah dan diraikan manakala kelahiran anak perempuan adalah sepi dan seringkali ibu yang melahirkan dicerca kerana melahirkan bayi perempuan. Layanan kelas kedua kepada kaum wanita dianggap sudah baik daripada dilayan sebagai hamba abdi.

Golongan berpendidikan tinggi terutamanya di bidang agama sering dilantik menjadi pemimpin. Mereka juga sering diangkat bagi mengetuai dan menggerakkan sebarang organisasi. Nasihat mereka diperlukan dalam setiap tindakan. Ada kalanya mereka ini membantu membangunkan komuniti dan ada kalanya mereka juga menjadi sebahagian daripada kerosakan besar didalam komuniti.

Mereka mengamalkan Mazhab Hanafi dalam semua amalan agama mereka, terdapat sebahagian kecil yang mengamalkan Mazhab Shafie dan menjadi pengikut Syiah. Mereka amat fundamental dalam perlaksanaan agama. Perkara yang dikira furu’ dalam masyarakat kita boleh menjadi perkara asas dalam masyarakat mereka. Pada mereka orang lelaki Muslim yang tidak berjanggut tidak sempurna Islamnya, malah ada yang taksub mengatakan siapa yang tidak berjanggut adalah bukan Islam. Mereka kuat bersolat, solat sunat sebelum dan sesudah solat fardhu, paling kurang ialah empat rakaat dan mereka menganggap seolah-olah solat sunat itu solat wajib.

Dari segi keselamatan, boleh dikatakan hampir 100% setiap rumah Afghanistan memiliki senjata api, jika bukan AK-47 mungkin sepucuk pistol tersorok dimana-mana didalam rumah tersebut. Mereka kebiasaannya hidup didalam suasana “extended family”, dimana kesemua ahli keluarga dari berbagai generasi akan tinggal sekali dan saling bergantung antara satu sama lain. Ahli keluarga lelaki yang tertua dan masih sihat akan menjadi ketua keluarga.
Dalam perbualan, samada serius atau santai, sekiranya anda seorang lelaki, jangan sebut apa-apa mengenai orang perempuan. Ini merupakan satu pantang utama dalam budaya mereka. Bercerita tentang adik perempuan, kakak, makcik atau mana-mana saudara perempuan adalah perbuatan tercela yang akan menyebabkan mereka marah. Ianya kelihatan agak keterlaluan dan melampau, tetapi ianya merupakan satu nilai yang digunapakai dan diterima oleh rata-rata semua masyarakat Afghanistan. Jadi, jangan mengundang masalah dengan bertanya tentang adik perempuan atau kakak sesiapa secara terbuka didalam apa jua majlis.

Apa yang sebenarnya ingin penulis maksudkan ialah bahawa masyarakat Afghanistan disamping keramahan, keterbukaan dan kemesraan mereka dalam persahabatan, mereka mengamalkan satu budaya yang begitu tertutup, konservatif yang diwarisi sejak sekian lama. Mereka amat berpegang teguh kepada kepercayaan yang dianuti dan mereka telah terbukti sanggup bergadai nyawa bagi memelihara kesucian dan kemuliaan agama. Dan, perkara ini telah berjalan sejak sekian lama dan telah menjadi ciri-ciri bagi seorang Afghan.

Kesimpulan yang boleh penulis nukilkan, sekiranya Amerika masih lagi mahu mencuba-cuba untuk melakukan provokasi melampau di bumi Afghanistan, mereka jangan terkejut melihat penduduk dari seluruh Afghanistan bersatu dan menentang mereka, tanpa perlu Al Qaeda dan Taliban campurtangan, mereka akan bangkit bersatu mengusir Amerika dari bumi Afghanistan. Mereka telah buktikan dengan menghalau British dan Russia suatu ketika dahulu. Amerika sedang menunggu detik masanya sahaja.

SHAHRUL PESHAWAR, menulis dari Gombak

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Afghanistan: Helmand IDPs tired of leaving their homes time and again

Thousands of families in Helmand have been forced to abandon their homes due to the ongoing conflict and war in the area.

These internally displaced people (IDPs) have since been living in abject conditions as a result of leaving behind their homes, livestock, farms and belongings.

Most of these families move to Lashkargah, the capital, to live in temporary camps. Some stay with relatives, others search for shelter in neighbouring districts, while some continue their painful journey to Kandahar or move as far as Kabul.

Gul Mohammad, who has been forced to abandon his home and village in Helmand’s Nadali district for the fifth time in less than a year, told UNAMA that life hasn’t changed for his family even after several clean-up operations. He regrets that each time the government promises to bring security, it fails to do so.

“The government and NATO forces started fresh offensives in Nadali and Marja. We are forced to leave our homes to safeguard our families. More than 200 families left Nadali and are currently living in Lashkargah. Some are staying with their relatives and some others have rented houses which they can’t afford for too long. They don’t have food, tents and heating material. Neither the government nor aid agencies have provided any assistance to us as yet,” he said.

1. “We are sick of operations in our area every day. We leave our homes. Our children have no future and those who can’t move are stranded due to IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and blocked roads. People are trying to move to safer areas in order to protect themselves. We appeal to the government and NATO forces to… provide us (with) security and better living conditions,” said Ahmad Wali, an IDP from Marja district, who currently lives in a rented house in Lashkargah.

The head of the government’s refugees and returnees department for Helmand, Ghulam Farooq Noorzai, admits a large number of families are coming to Lashkargah from the districts of Marja and Nadali.

“We are in contact with UN agencies and have shared our concerns with them,” said Mr Noorzai. “The UN has promised to release assistance to the new IDPs from Nadali and Marja,” he added.

According to him, the United Nations has provided assistance to over 8,000 IDP families in Helmand province in the last six months.

Lucio Milardo, head of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Kandahar, says the UN is helping the IDPs to build food capacity.

“First, the United Nations is providing humanitarian assistance to the IDPs based on their needs. Second, the humanitarian assistance from the UN agencies should not be aligned with military. Our aim is only to assist people in need and has nothing to do with the military,” he said.

“We are glad that UN agencies are helping the IDPs who have been forced to leave their homes and villages due to military operations. We have a good coordination mechanism in place with all UN agencies, including UNHCR, WFP, UNICEF, WHO, UNAMA and others and we really appreciate their assistance”, said Mr Noorzai.

Mr Noorzai expects a fresh influx of IDPs from Nadali district, after the recent announcement by the military to launch fresh offensives. He, however, said they are prepared to meet the requirements of up to 15,000 IDPs with the assistance of UN agencies.

The United Nations is up to the task and as part of the UN’s Interagency Contingency Plan for natural and man-made disasters, the UN has pre-positioned sufficient food and non-food items at the provincial level.

United Nations agencies in the regions have always played a vital role in providing assistance to IDPs in Helmand and other provinces.

In 2009 alone, UN agencies assisted more than 30,000 families in the south with humanitarian aid – almost double when compared to 2008 – as displacement continued from areas most affected by the conflict.

By Mujeeb Rahman, UNAMA

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Suspected US missile kills 20 in Pakistan

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – A suspected U.S. missile strike by a drone aircraft flattened a militant hide-out in northwest Pakistan on Saturday, killing 20 local and foreign insurgents, intelligence officials said.

At least 15 militants were also wounded in the attack in the restive South Waziristan tribal region, where Pakistan has launched several military operations against the Taliban, al-Qaida and their local supporters in recent years.

The Taliban surrounded the targeted house and transported the dead and wounded out, said three intelligence officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media

No government or military spokesmen were available for comment.

Pakistan is a key ally of the United States in its fight against terrorism, but it has opposed missile strikes in the country’s tribal regions where Taliban and al-Qaida insurgents are believed to be operating.

The U.S. has launched more than 30 missile attacks in recent months.

Saturday’s attack came days after Pakistani leaders told Richard Holbrooke, an American envoy dispatched by President Barack Obama to the region, that the U.S. attacks should be stopped as they were counterproductive and fueling anti-America sentiment in this Islamic nation.

It also came a day after a militant group holding an American employee of the United Nations warned it would kill him within 72 hours and issued a grainy video of the blindfolded captive saying he was “sick and in trouble.”

SHAHRUL PESHAWAR – Continuous attack on Pakistani land by American Forces will only spark the anger of the people and may jeopardize any effort or attempt to release John Solecki.  Personally, I feel that US is not serious in releasing Solecki.

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Afghan conflict claiming more child casualties as insurgency spreads, UN report finds

afghan-boy

Children are being killed, exploited and abused in ever-increasing numbers in Afghanistan as the violence across the conflict-ridden country worsens, the United Nations says in a new report released today.

The report on the impact on children of Afghanistan’s armed conflict shows that all sides to the fighting – which pits the army and allied international forces against the Taliban and other insurgents – have committed numerous violations and abuses against the young.

The Taliban is persisting in using children as suicide bombers, while international and Afghan forces have inadvertently killed dozens of children as they attempt to beat back the insurgency, according to the report from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, which detailed several examples.

“On 16 May 2008, a boy of approximately 12 years of age approached a joint International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)-Afghan National Army foot patrol in Panjwayi district, Kandahar province spreading his hands,” the report says. “The suicide vest he carried is believed to have been remotely detonated.”

In November last year, a suicide bombing that targeted parliamentarians on a road in northern Baghlan province led police and bodyguards to fire indiscriminately. Various independent reports indicated that the approximately 70 dead included 52 schoolchildren.

“Insurgent influence has intensified in areas that were previously relatively calm, including in the provinces closest to Kabul [the Afghan capital]. The number of security incidents rose to 983 in August 2008, the highest number since the fall of the Taliban in 2001,” the report adds.

It also notes that since the completion of the Government’s demobilization and reintegration of 7,444 under-age soldiers in 2003, there has been no monitoring of children vulnerable to further recruitment or re-recruitment.

A study of suicide attacks by UNAMA documented cases of children reportedly used as suicide bombers by the Taliban. Most were between 15 and 16 years of age and were tricked, promised money or forced to become suicide bombers.

Mr. Ban expresses concern in the report that there are children in the ranks of the Afghan National Auxiliary Police, conducting patrols, guarding police posts and carrying out checkpoint duties. In the south, two recently recruited 14-year-old boys were successfully released after an intervention with the authorities.

The Secretary-General also describes a number of disturbing cases involving children – especially boys – being sexually abused and exploited by members of the armed forces and armed groups. One case involved two police officers who were arrested for sexually abusing a 15-year-old boy in a south-eastern province, but later released after bribing the authorities.

“I encourage the Government of Afghanistan to implement more fully laws and programmes to prevent and punish sexual violence and to support victims, monitor grave sexual violations against boys as well as girls and work with my team in Afghanistan to study ways and means of combating harmful practices,” he writes.

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WFP says food aid being looted in NW Pakistan

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ISLAMABAD, Nov 13, 2008 (AFP) – The UN World Food Programme on Thursday expressed concern over a rise in the looting of humanitarian food supplies in northwestern Pakistan, saying it was hurting the poor.

Some 900 tons of edible oil and wheat were looted in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province (NWFP), which borders Afghanistan, in three incidents in the last month, it said in a statement.

The UN agency said that it was “greatly concerned over rapidly increasing losses of humanitarian food aid destined for the undernourished population” of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Landlocked Afghanistan depends on Pakistan for its supplies from overseas.

Suspected Taliban-linked militants in Pakistan have burnt several oil tankers carrying fuel for coalition forces based in Afghanistan and attacked goods trucks in the past.

“In three different incidents over 900 tons of wheat and edible oil with a value of approximately one million US dollars were lost to armed assaults in NWFP,” the World Food Programme (WFP) statement said.

There has been a surge in violence in the province in recent months blamed on Islamic militants from the Taliban regime who fled across the border following the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

Pakistani troops have increased operations in tribal areas bordering Afghanistan in a bid to root out Islamist militants.

“The deteriorating security situation in NWFP is hampering WFP’s ability to provide much needed food assistance for the poor in Pakistan and Afghanistan,” Wolfgang Herbinger, WFP Country Director in Pakistan said.

“We are very concerned that people who are already hard hit by food shortages and rising prices are additionally deprived due to such incidents.”

The WFP said it lost eleven trucks carrying 441 tons of wheat to Afghanistan in a massive armed attack in the Khyber tribal district of Pakistan on Monday and last month a large number of armed attackers looted 208 tons of wheat.

In another incident on October 21, 263 tons of edible oil meant for a school feeding programme was burned in Swat district.

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Copyright (c) 2008 Agence France-Presse

What happened?  I dont understand the latest development in NWFP.  It seems that the Pakistani government is losing control on the territory.  Last two days in the heart of NGO’s enclave in University Town, an international humanitarian worker along with his driver were killed, now the looting.  The last time we heard about mass looting is on 2002.  That was acceptable because during that period of time, Taliban still exist and the situation is not fully controlled by the government. 

Pakistani government should be seen more serious and tighthen security especially for the safety of humanitarian and other ngo’s in the area.  I pray for the safety of my fellow NGO’s friends and wishing you all the success while performing your duties.  All the best Bro & Sis.

SHAHRUL PESHAWAR, Alor Setar, Kedah

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Blackwater trained Afghan police joins Taliban

After fighting the Taliban for the past seven years, many working for the Afghan security forces are now switching sides.
 
Sulieman Ameri and his 16 men were until a month ago serving the Afghan government as police patrolling the border with Iran.
 
Now they answer to the Taliban and their goal is to drive all foreign troops out of Afghanistan.
 
Ameri, now a Taliban commander, told Al Jazeera that he joined the Taliban because of what he called anti-Muslim behaviour by international soldiers.
 
“I have seen everything with my own eyes, I have seen prostitution, I have seen them drinking alcohol. We are Muslim and therefore jihad is our obligation,” Ameri said in the mountains south of Herat.
 
“Our soil is occupied by Americans and I want them to leave this country. That is my only goal,” he added.

In early September this year, a senior Afghan army official and 50 soldiers have reportedly abandoned their uniforms and joined the ranks of the Taliban.
Taliban spokesman Qari Mohammad Yousuf announced the move in a statement published on jihadi internet forums on Tuesday.

“At 10 a.m yesterday, the deputy general of the border guards, Nur Ahmad Khan Bahlawan joined the ranks of the mujahadeen together with 50 soldiers as a result of a secret relationship established for some time with the men from Nu castle in the region of Badghis.”

According to the Taliban, the deserters reportedly brought two rockets and three sub-machineguns as well as a quantity of money.

The official was working with the soldiers as border guards.

 

 

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TEN FRENCH SOLDIERS KILLED IN TALIBAN AMBUSH IN AFGHANISTAN

KABUL: Ten French NATO soldiers were killed in a Taliban ambush in Afghanistan, officials said on Tuesday, the deadliest ground attack on foreign troops here since the US-led war was launched in 2001.
The shock ambush also left 21 French troops wounded, and prompted French President Nicolas Sarkozy to announce he would immediately head to the country, where recent monthly death tolls for foreign forces have topped those for Iraq.

News of the attack came as the resurgent Taliban attempted a mass suicide attack on a US military base, in a defiant reminder that tens of thousands of international troops have not been able to keep the Islamic militants at bay.

“Yesterday 10 of our soldiers… were killed in Afghanistan, 21 others were wounded during a joint reconnaissance mission with the Afghan national army,” Sarkozy said in a statement issued in Paris.

“In its struggle against terrorism, France has just been hit hard.”

The ambush took place in the district of Sarobi, just 50 kilometres (30 miles) east of Kabul, the Afghan capital, which has been increasingly targeted by the Taliban insurgency.

Around 100 insurgents attacked a patrol of French and Afghan troops, said NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), under which about 3,000 French soldiers serve.

The fighting began on Monday and lasted into Tuesday, it said in a statement.

“The initial patrol was reinforced with quick reaction forces, close air support and mobile medical teams. During the engagement a large number of insurgents were killed,” ISAF said.

“There was fierce fighting throughout the night,” said Afghan defence ministry spokesman General Mohammad Zahir Azimi, who said at least 13 Taliban fighters had been killed in the clashes.

The extremist Taliban said it had attacked ISAF troops in Sarobi and blown up several vehicles. “We have inflicted heavy casualties,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed said.

Before the latest fighting, only around a dozen French soldiers had lost their lives in various incidents in Afghanistan since the French military deployed to the country in 2003. Sarkozy, due to arrive in Afghanistan early on Wednesday, said his trip to Kabul would be to reassure French troops serving in the NATO force that “France is at their side.”

US President George Bush offered his condolences, the White House said.

“The president was briefed on that this morning during his intelligence briefing, (and) sends his condolences to the loved ones of those lost, as well as those wounded,” spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.

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Abducted Action Against Hunger staff released in Afghanistan


Kabul, Afghanistan — The international relief and development organization Action Against Hunger / Action Contre la Faim (ACF) was relieved to learn this morning of the liberation of its two staff members who were kidnapped on July 17th in Afghanistan. Our colleagues are apparently healthy.

Preparations are underway to expedite their return home to France.

Action against Hunger would like to thank the Afghan and French authorities for their involvement and support.

Action Against Hunger in Afghanistan

Action Against Hunger / Action Contre la Faim (ACF) was founded in 1979 in response to the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan. In 1995, ACF launched its first relief operations within the country, starting in Kabul and Pansheer; it has continued to be one of the leading humanitarian aid organizations in Afghanistan to the present day.

About Action Against Hunger

Action Against Hunger / Action Contre la Faim (ACF), an international relief and development organization committed to saving the lives of malnourished children and families, provides sustainable access to safe water and long-term solutions to hunger. For nearly three decades, ACF has pursued its vision of a world without hunger by combating hunger in emergency situations of conflict, natural disaster, and chronic food insecurity.

Press Contact

Action Against Hunger – USA
James L. Phelan
Senior External Relations Officer, ACF-USA
Contact James Phelan
Direct: 212-967-7800 x108
Cell: 646-265-7796

Action Against Hunger – France
Lucile Grosjean
Chargé de communication, ACF-France
lgrosjean@actioncontrelafaim.org
Direct: + 33 1 43 35 82 22
Offsite/Weekends: + 06 70 01 58 34 / + 06 70 01 58 43

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Five NATO soldiers killed in Afghanistan: ISAF

KABUL (AFP) – Bomb blasts killed five NATO soldiers in Afghanistan on Friday, the alliance force said, in the latest in a surge of extremist attacks that have raised alarm about deteriorating security.

Five Afghan policemen were also killed in an overnight bomb attack that was similar to scores carried out by the hardline Taliban group waging an insurgency after being driven from government in 2001.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) did not release the nationalities of its soldiers killed in eastern provinces along the border with Pakistan, where extremist rebels are said to have sanctuary.

Four died with a civilian interpreter in the eastern province of Kunar, ISAF said in a statement that gave few details. Another died in a similar blast in Khost, it said separately.

Most soldiers deployed in both provinces are US nationals who make up about half of the nearly 70,000 international troops helping the Afghan government fight a spiralling insurgency.

The new deaths take to 149 the number of mostly Western soldiers to die in Afghanistan this year, a majority losing their lives in attacks. For the past three months, more foreign troops have died in Afghanistan than in Iraq.

The five Afghan policemen were killed late Thursday in the volatile southern province of Kandahar, a Taliban stronghold.

They were on patrol in Pajwayi when a remote-controlled bomb blew up their vehicle, deputy district police chief Bismillah Khan told AFP. Two other officers were wounded, he said.

About 800 Afghan security forces — mostly police — have been killed so far this year, according to the interior ministry.

Hundreds of civilians have also died in violence, most of them in attacks by Islamic extremists who regularly abduct and kill Afghans working with the government as part of their bloody campaign of intimidation.

The Taliban said Friday it had kidnapped a district governor in Kunar province.

Provincial governor Fazlullah Wahedi confirmed that Marawara district chief Abdul Ghayas Haqmal was missing. “We don’t know who have kidnapped him,” he said.

Haqmal had last month thwarted a Taliban attack on a district in Kunar.

Elsewhere, in southwestern Nimroz province, a 14-year-old boy trying to flee police blew himself up after the officers opened fire, killing three passers-by and wounding five others, provincial governor Gulam Dastgir Azad told AFP.

The Taliban launched their insurgency after being ousted from government in a US-led invasion nearly seven years ago after they did not hand over their Al-Qaeda allies for the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The violence has grown year on year, ruining the post-Taliban government’s hopes of rebuilding a country destroyed by decades of war.

An umbrella body of aid groups said Friday that insurgent attacks, bombings and other violent incidents were up by about 50 percent this year compared with the same period last year.

Unrest has spread to once stable areas and welfare agencies were forced to scale back aid delivery even as drought and food price hikes put millions of people in difficulty, the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief said.

“This year 2,500 people have reportedly lost their lives in the conflict and whilst exact figures are not yet available, this could include up to 1,000 civilians,” the group said in a statement.

“So far this year 19 NGO staff have been killed, which already exceeds the total number of NGO workers killed last year.”

Officials have also said that recent attacks showed more sophistication and planning while more foreign fighters — including Pakistanis, Turks, Chechens, Arabs and Uzbeks — were on the battlefield.

 

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Attack on US base in Afghanistan kills 9 Americans

KABUL, Afghanistan – A multi-pronged militant assault on a small, remote U.S. base close to the Pakistan border killed nine American soldiers and wounded 15 Sunday in the deadliest attack on U.S. forces in Afghanistan in three years, officials said.

The attack on the American troops began around 4:30 a.m. and lasted throughout the day. Militants fired machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars from homes and a mosque in the village of Wanat in the mountainous northeastern province of Kunar, NATO‘s International Security Assistance Force said in a statement.

“Although no final assessment has been made, it is believed insurgents suffered heavy casualties during several hours of fighting,” NATO said in a statement.

U.S. officials say militant attacks in Afghanistan are becoming more complex, intense and better coordinated than a year ago. Monthly death tolls of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan surpassed U.S. military deaths in Iraq in May and June. And last Monday, a suicide bomber attacked the Indian Embassy in Kabul, killing 58 people in the deadliest attack in the Afghan capital since 2001.

U.S. officials are considering drawing down additional forces from Iraq in coming months, in part because of the need for additional U.S. troops in Afghanistan. U.S. officials have said they need at least three more brigades in Afghanistan — or more than 10,000 troops.

NATO confirmed nine of its soldiers had been killed and 15 wounded. A Western official said the nine dead were Americans, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the troops’ nationalities. Four Afghan soldiers also were wounded, NATO said.

Lt. Col. Rumi Nielson-Green, the top U.S. military spokeswoman in Afghanistan, said she could not comment because the fighting was ongoing.

The attack was the deadliest for U.S. troops in Afghanistan since June 2005, when 16 American troops were killed — also in Kunar province — when their helicopter was shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade. Those troops were on their way to rescue a four-man team of Navy SEALs caught in a militant ambush. Three SEALs were killed, the fourth was rescued days later by a farmer.

The latest assault came at a time of rising violence in Afghanistan. Also on Sunday, a suicide bomber targeting a police patrol killed 24 people, including 19 civilians, while U.S. coalition and Afghan soldiers killed 40 militants elsewhere in the south.

More than 2,300 people — mostly militants — have died in insurgency-related violence this year, according to an Associated Press tally of official figures. Attacks in eastern Afghanistan are up 40 percent this year compared with last year.

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned during a visit to Kabul last week that there are more foreign fighters, including al-Qaida members, in Pakistan‘s tribal areas, militants who cross the border and launch attacks against U.S. and Afghan troops.

Mullen has said he hopes improved security in Iraq will allow troops to be shifted this year from Iraq to Afghanistan, where violence is rising.

Violence in Iraq is at its lowest level in four years and Iraqi forces are taking on more responsibility, trends that could allow Gen. David Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq, to recommend to President Bush in September that he resume a troop withdrawal that is being put on hold this month so Petraeus has time to assess the overall situation. A top Bush aide, Ed Gillespie, said Sunday that withdrawing more troops from Iraq after that assessment always has “been a possibility.”

Another cause for concern in Afghanistan is the high casualty tolls for civilians killed in violence. This month, an Afghan government commission found that U.S. aircraft killed 47 civilians during a bombing run in Nangarhar province, while a separate incident in Nuristan province is alleged by an Afghan officials to have killed 22 civilians.

The tolls have prompted the International Committee of the Red Cross this week to ask all sides to show restraint and avoid civilian casualties. But violence continued around the country on Sunday.

A suicide bomber on a motorcycle blew himself up next to a police patrol in the southern province of Uruzgan, killing 24 people. The bomb attack on a police patrol at a busy intersection of the Deh Rawood district killed five police officers and 19 civilians, wounding more than 30 others, said Juma Gul Himat, Uruzgan’s police chief. Most of those killed and wounded were shopkeepers and young boys selling goods in the street, he said.

Elsewhere, Taliban militants executed two women in central Afghanistan late Saturday after accusing them of working as prostitutes on a U.S. base.

The women, dressed in blue burqas, were shot and killed just outside Ghazni city in central Afghanistan, said Sayed Ismal, a spokesman for Ghazni’s governor. He called the two “innocent local people.”

Taliban fighters told Associated Press Television News the two women were executed for allegedly running a prostitution ring catering to U.S. soldiers and other foreign contractors at a U.S. base in Ghazni city.

1st Lt. Nathan Perry, a U.S. military spokesman, said he had not heard allegations “anything close to that nature.”

Meanwhile, at least 40 militants were killed following an attack on Afghan and U.S.-led coalition forces in Helmand province, the coalition said in a statement. The militants attacked the combined forces near Sangin on Saturday from “multiple concealed and fortified positions,” the coalition said. Thirty “enemy boats” and several small bridges have been destroyed on the Helmand River during two days of fighting, it said.

Also Sunday, a soldier with NATO’s International Security Assistance Force died in a roadside blast in Helmand province, a statement said. The soldier’s nationality was not released and it wasn’t clear if the death was connected to the two-day battle.

In the north, a soldier serving with ISAF died of wounds caused by an explosion Saturday, the military alliance said in a statement. The statement did not give any further details of the explosion. The soldier’s nationality was not disclosed.

There are nearly 53,000 troops from 40 nations serving in the ISAF in Afghanistan.

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